The Morning Mix

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Monday provided very little action on the hardwood. But the news cycle kept on spinning, as two mid-majors are joining the conference realignment fray. Get ready for a full night of hoops with The Morning Mix.

Let’s hit the links.


Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Kent State @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – Georgia @ Georgia Tech
7:00 p.m. – Oklahoma @ Arkansas
7:00 p.m. – Texas vs. No. 15 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Western Carolina @ No. 13 Illinois
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ No. 12 Missouri
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ No. 14 Minnesota
8:00 p.m. – Wyoming @ Illinois State
8:30 p.m. – Western Michigan @ No. 3 Michigan
9:00 p.m. – Siena @ St. Bonaventure (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – No. 25 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Louisville @ Charleston
9:00 p.m. – Northwestern @ Baylor
9:30 p.m. – Southern Mississippi @ No. 8 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – St. John’s @ San Francisco
10:00 p.m. – Nevada @ Pacific
11:00 p.m. – No. 22 UNLV @ Portland


Picture of the Day:
I guess this is an accurate depiction of a “Three-headed monster”. (From @LemurFemur)



Read of the Day:
Statistician extraordinaire Dan Hanner drops some stellar knowledge on how the top-80 recruits have fared thus far this season. Make sure you read this. Hanner is always “must-read” material (RealGM.com)

Read of the Day:
Grantland provides an excellent piece on the tradition that Tom Crean is restoring at Indiana. Read it. (Grantland)


Top Stories:
Patience needed for South Carolina fans: NBC Sports College Basketball Insider Vin Parise explains why patience will be needed for Gamecock fans, and provides some insight on players he’s watching out for.

Mark Lyons has 12 assists this year and 15 turnovers, is he Arizona answer at the point? The Wildcats sit at -0 and are ranked inside this top ten. They have a young and talented front court, but seem to be lacking an identity in the back court. The Xavier-transfer has struggled to distribute the ball. But maybe distribution by committee will work best for the Wildcats.

Handicapping the national scoring leader race: We may only be one month into the season, but five players have emerged and will likely battle it out to be the nation’s top scorer this season. You’ve heard of C.J. McCollum, Isaiah Canaan, and Doug McDermott, but there are two sleepers to keep an eye on.

Late Night Snacks from Monday night: There was not a lot of action of the college hardwood last night. One 14 games were played. Of those 14, only nine featured Division I vs. Division I match-ups.

Jim Calhoun had cancer removal surgery in May: The former-UConn head coach revealed on Monday that he had surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his lungs during the off-season. His explanation can only be summed up as “Calhoun-like”


Hoops Housekeeping
– Highly touted class of 2014 big-man Karl Towns, who played for the Dominican National Team this summer, is schedule to make his college choice today, and is likely to choose Kentucky (Courier Journal)

– Former-Pittsburgh guard John Johnson has decided to transfer to Penn State (Victory Bell Rings)

– Clemson guard T.J. Sapp has announced his intentions to transfer from the Tigers program (Shakin’ The Southland)

– Providence guard Bryce Cotton is doubtful for the Friars game against Rhode Island, while freshman Kris Dunn is unlikely to make his season debut (Friar Blog)

– Massachusetts center Cady Lalanne has been indefinitely suspended after weekend arrest at on-campus function (MassLive.com)


Observations & Insight:
– The non-football Big east schools would be thrilled if the bleeding stops soon (SNY.tv)

– Utah will honor the life of former head coach Rick Majerus by hanging his legendary white sweater in the rafters (ESPN)

– Thanks to a loaded field and a successful turnout, the Battle 4 Atlantis wants to remain the top preseason tournament in the country (Sports Illustrated)

– The NEC is getting raided by the MAAC, as Monmouth and Quinnipiac are set to make a move. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the decision (Run the Floor)

– An excellent profile piece on the development of O.D. Anosike, both on and off the court (Albany Times-Union)

– Eamonn Brennan tells us who he would choose if he had to select one basketball player to stay all four years (ESPN)

– John Gasaway breaks down three unranked and under-appreciated teams that we shouldn’t forget about (ESPN Insider)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Ford debate about the most talented teams in the nation (ESPN Insider)

– Jeff Eisenberg drops a solid list of the teams that have most exceeded expectations so far this season (The Dagger)

– The Memphis Tigers are a work in process. The energy and effort provided by freshman Shaq Goodwin is sure to pay off in the long run (Memphis Commercial-Appeal)

– Syracuse whipped Eastern Michigan last night. Jim Boeheim believes the early progress of Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman are crucial to Syracuse’s chances this season (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– After an anemic showing against Tennessee, the Georgetown Hoyas look to rise above against Texas tonight in Manhattan (Washington Post)

– Is this really a question? I thought it was common knowledge that Florida forward Patric Young is grossly underutilized (Rush The Court)

– Will the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State provide a battle against their Golden Gopher foes from across the border? (From The Barn)


Odds & Ends
– Kirk Hanson has won more than 700 games as head coach at Central Bible College (NCCAA), but because of a merger with Evangel University, the three-time National Championship-winning coach will be out of a job (CSN Northwest)

– The LaSalle Explorers will wear slick throwback uniforms against Penn Stat in honor of their 1968-1969 squad that finished 23-1 (Philahoops.com)

– St. John’s will face San Francisco tonight on the west coast. The Johnnies spent some of their free time in San Francisco helping out at a local food bank (Johnny Jungle)

– A look at the total expenses of A-10 basketball programs from last season (Duquesne Sports Blog)


Dunk of the Day:
I agree with the description. This angle doesn’t do the dunk proper justice.


Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.